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Project on Government Oversight




Moab Uranium Tailings Pile on the Colorado River: POGO Releases Report, NRC Sells Environment Down the River; Members of Congress Issue Statements in Support of Legislation

March 23, 1999 


Polluter greed is prevailing over the health of millions of Americans exposed to radiation leeching from a toxic waste site into the Colorado River according to a report based on internal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) documents. A watchdog says the Moab, Utah site is just one more example of the NRC's pattern of kowtowing to industry special interests.

Congressman George Miller has introduced H.R. 393, legislation that would rectify problems with the handling of the site. Congressman Bob Filner is scheduled to speak about the bill from the floor of the House of Representatives on March 23, 1999.

The report confirms that Atlas Corporation, the polluter that owns the site, has bullied the NRC into accepting a clean-up plan that will save the company a bundle of money but falls far short of government and public safety standards. The report comes on the heels of release of the NRC's Final Environmental Impact Statement approving the Atlas plan, in spite of public criticism by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and major environmental organizations.

The Atlas proposal would cap the 10.5 million tons of uranium mill wastes at its current location, even though the site is unlined and would continue to seep into the Colorado River, the source of drinking water for 25 million residents in California and Arizona and home to several endangered species of fish. Legislation would require that jurisdiction over the site clean-up be moved to the Department of Energy which has a better reputation for handling such cases.

The 230-page report, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Sells Environment Down the River: Radiation Flows Unchecked Into Colorado River, can be ordered from POGO.

In recent years, POGO has forced the government to acknowledge oil industry royalty underpayments and to begin collection of as much as $2 billion, been credited with cancellation of the wasteful $13 billion Superconducting Super Collider, and forced the military to admit the existence of a super secret base known as Area 51 and stop violating environmental laws there.  

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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